Don't Let Romance Scam You

Posted on February 21, 2023 at 10:15 AM by Theresa Macdonald

In today’s day and age, there a so many different ways someone can be scammed. Among the most common ways people get scammed are romance scams. According to the FBI, reports of these online scams have increased by nearly 25% since 2019. Those affected have lost a record high of 547 million in 2021 from being swindled by their online sweetheart. We’ve seen a huge increase in these types of scams and want to better inform our members to be on the lookout and know the red flags so they don’t become a victim.

What is a romance scam and what are the most common types?

Romance Scams can take many different forms but below are some of the most common:

Fake dating sites: Scam dating sites that claim to be legitimate but are actually filled with scammers or underpopulated, created to mine your information.

Military romance scams: The scammer will pose as a military member, likely deployed. They build trust by using military jargon and titles, then ask for money to cover military-related expenses such as flights home.

Code verification scams: Scammers will send a fake verification code through email or text, posing to be a dating app or website. Once clicked on, it will ask you for your personal information, including your social security number and credit card information.

How to identify a scammer?

Not sure how you can identify a scammer? Listed below are a few telltale signs a cybercriminal may be the one sweeping you off your feet.

They’re far, far away: Scammers often have a backstory that takes them far away so they have a reason why they can’t meet in person. Whether they work on an oil rig, are deployed overseas, working in construction outside the US, or are a doctor in an international organization.  

Their profiles seem too good to be true: A legitimate dating profile will have plenty of photos of the person in a variety of situations with a few full body photos, not just part of their face. In contrast, a scammer might night list any details or the detail and hobbies listed are almost an exact match to yours – the similarities might be too good to be true.

The relationship moves fast: Dating scammers want to act as quickly as possible before their target catches on to their tactics. For this reason, they like to gain your trust as soon as possible, by professing their love to you surprisingly quickly, asking you to marry them, making promises to see you, or asking to move communications off the dating site. Pay attention to your conversation and consider the following red flags: The messages look like they could be copy-and-pasted into any conversation, the grammar and spelling are way off, and they come up with excuses when asked to video chat.

They break promises to visit:  Romance scammers want to keep their identities a secret, so they conveniently break promises to visit after you’ve purchased plane tickets or helped cover other travel expenses.

They claim they need money: If your online Romeo or Juliet asks you for money and you haven’t met, beware. A romance scammer may ask you to send them money for a variety of things like:

  • Travel expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Gambling debts
  • Family or personal emergencies

Of course, they all will have a sob story to back up their request, no matter how far-fetched. An alternative to look out for is they could send you money! This could rope you into a “money-mule” scheme, where the scammer asks you to deposit money into your bank account, distribute the funds to other people, or deliver packages.

Last but not least They ask for specific payment methods:  Be cautious if your cyber sweetheart asks you to send them money via:

  • Wire transfer
  • Preloaded gift cards
  • A newly established bank account in your name

These payment methods are difficult to reverse all while remaining anonymous. Once you send them money, they might ask for more. If you say no, their messages may get desperate and aggressive.

As cyber threats evolve, we need to be sure we are doing our due diligence to remain safe and secure. Keep these tips and warning signs at the top of your mind, after all, you don’t want your love story to end in a cybercrime.

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